How to Entertain in Your Home on a Budget

Mike Hersey is a homeowner is Florida who enjoys taking on home improvement projects and finding ways to save money on costs.

When it comes to saving money, you likely focus on trimming the cost of rent, groceries, monthly bills, and gasoline. What you probably don't consider is how to save money when entertaining friends. Sure, you might like to go all-out when hosting a get-together - but there are still ways you can throw a first-rate shindig without draining your bank account.

Dinner Party

1. Create a Budget

You may dislike the idea of making a budget, but it is a must if you're going to save money on entertainment. And before you can decide how much to spend on your party, first you must establish a personal budget by calculating monthly expenses:

  1. Break out your last pay stub and determine your monthly after-tax income

  2. Calculate the total of all your monthly bills

  3. Estimate how much you spend per week on entertainment, and multiply that amount times four

  4. Add this amount to the total cost of your monthly bills

It is essential that the amount of money you earn per month is greater than the amount you spend. If you have money left over after all of your expenses are accounted for, that is the maximum you can allot to entertaining friends. If you are already spending more than you are earning on a monthly basis, you must begin cutting back on expenses before you find yourself in serious financial trouble.

2. Break Out the Old Board Games

Did you enjoy playing Trivial Pursuit back in the '80s? How about Pictionary or Clue? If so, break them out and entertain family and friends for free. And even if you can't find your old games, you can easily find them used for around $15, which makes for a cheap evening of fun.

3. Host Potluck Events

If you're worried that hosting a potluck dinner may make you look cheap, prepare the main course only and go all out by serving a dish such as like filets or prime rib. Even if it costs extra, it will still pale in comparison to what the whole meal would cost. Ask guests to bring a dessert, beverages, appetizers, and side dishes - something that goes good with your entrée.

4. Go "Freshetarian"

If you do not want to organize a potluck event, host a dinner get-together that's completely vegetarian, with the majority of options freshly prepared. It may open the eyes of your guests to the incredible flavor profile you can get by going all produce.

For example, you can include the following items on your menu:

  • Beverage: Fresh berry-ade (berries processed in a food processor and mixed with water and sugar)

  • Appetizer: Eggplant pizza rounds (baked eggplant rounds topped with pizza sauce, diced tomatoes and peppers, and shredded melted cheese)

  • Main Dish: Grilled veggie skewers (large chunks of bell peppers, whole mushrooms, thick potato cubes, and chunked zucchini and squash, grilled over an open flame an served with fresh guacamole)

  • Dessert: Vanilla ice cream topped with whole blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries

Your overall costs will be a fraction of what you'd spend on a meat entrée, store-bought sodas and juice drinks, and prepared side dishes and desserts. This is a great way to be frugal and "wow" your guests.

5. Limit the Alcohol

No matter your type of event, limiting the alcohol will serve two purposes: It saves money, and it makes your guests less prone to embarrassing themselves. Stick with a limited amount of domestic beers, and pick up a couple bottles of wine at Trader Joe's for $4 apiece. If you don't have one near you, check out your local liquor store instead of buying from the local supermarket.

In addition to serving a great meal and playing some classic games, you may wish to wind down the evening with a movie. Fortunately, movie rentals are now cheaper than ever before - especially if you have a subscription to Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime, which generally cost less than $10 per month for unlimited films. And if you do not have a device to stream movies, you can find a Redbox in almost any town in America and rent a DVD for just a couple bucks.

What additional ways can you suggest to entertain guests on a budget?

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